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"Unity: Journalists of Color": The Sequel?

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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Members to Vote on Restoring Longtime Name

Why People of Color Own So Few Broadcast Outlets

Israeli Strikes Kill Three Journalists in Gaza

Radio Host Suspended After Racist Obama Post

NPR's Norris on Leave for Her "Race Card Project"

Wanda Lloyd Stepping Down as Editor in Montgomery

T.J. Holmes Breaks Pledge Not to Use N-Word

"Showbiz Journalism Even More Shallow Than I Thought"

Thanksgiving Brings Out the Joy and Pain

Short Takes

Ram Ramgopal of the Asian American Journalists Association casts his AAJA electi

Members to Vote on Restoring Longtime Name

The name "Unity: Journalists of Color" or a variation is likely to return as the name for the coalition of Hispanic, Asian American, Native American and lesbian and gay journalists if the Unity board adopts any of the recommendations to be circulated soon to members of those associations.

The coalition changed its name to "Unity Journalists" in April after it admitted the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, which warned that its members might boycott Unity's summer convention if the words "Journalists of Color" were not dropped from the coalition's name.

However, the name change prompted a backlash from many who said Unity was veering from its history and purpose. Among them were members of the National Association of Black Journalists, which left the coalition last year over governance and financial issues, and which Unity is trying to woo back.

"Here's the ballot being sent to eligible UNITY alliance group members starting this week," Janet Cho, a Unity board member from the Asian American Journalists Association, told Journal-isms by email on Wednesday:

"Dear UNITY alliance members:

"The UNITY Board created the UNITY Name Task Force to address our members' concerns about how our previous name, 'UNITY: Journalists of Color Inc.' was changed to 'UNITY: Journalists Inc.' without their input at our April Board meeting. The Board unanimously agreed to find a name that better reflected our expanded coalition.

"Thank you to the many members who submitted 107 ideas on UNITY's name. Based on your feedback, we are offering you three choices. Please select only the one name you think best represents the UNITY alliance:

"____A. UNITY: Journalists of Color Inc.

"____B. UNITY: Journalists of Color & Diversity Inc.

"____C. UNITY: Journalists of Color & for Diversity Inc.

"Please return your ballot before midnight EST Thursday, Dec. 13, so that the Task Force can present the results of this vote to the entire UNITY Board."

Cho added that 52 people submitted the 107 names to the inbox, which Cho and Walt Swanston, the interim executive director, monitored. "Not all of them self-identified as members of a UNITY alliance group, but I can confirm that we got submissions from members of all five groups (NAJA, AAJA, NAHJ, NLGJA and NABJ).

"I asked each of the six UNITY Name Task Force members (including NABJ rep Benet Wilson) send their top three choices to Walt, and we chose the three finalists from the names in that pool.

"After the associations all vote by Dec. 13 and send their results to Walt, the Task Force will be making a recommendation to the UNITY Board (based on that membership vote) on what name to adopt. The board vote hasn't been scheduled yet, but will probably take place after that, in mid-December."

Although NABJ members will not have an official say, Wilson put together a poll on the name choices for NABJ. "Our votes will not count, but the results will be submitted for consideration," Wilson said.

David Honig, left, who leads the Minority Media Telecommunications Council, with

Why People of Color Own So Few Broadcast Outlets

When the FCC reported last week that African Americans owned only 10 television stations in 2011, or less than 1 percent of the total, some Journal-isms readers speculated on the reason.

"Appears they simply may not consider owning TV stations to be profitable investments," wrote one. "Was it because of Affirmative Action or Diversity programs that they have 10??" asked another. "Maybe black investors have been spending their money elsewhere. Maybe TV stations in general aren't very profitable, or aren't worth the hassle," a third said.

David Honig, whose Minority Media Telecommunications Council follows minority ownership issues and brokers ownership of broadcast outlets, provided an answer on Tuesday. He addressed television and radio ownership by Asian Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans as well.

". . . The real reasons for the decline in minority ownership are well known," Honig wrote.

"Access to capital. Advertisers' 'no urban' and 'no Spanish' instructions to ad agencies not to place ads on stations targeting customers they don't want patronizing their stores.

"Employment discrimination. Sampling deficiencies in radio ratings. The recession coupled with the 20:1 racial wealth gap. The loss of the 1978 Tax Certificate Policy that quintupled minority ownership until Congress repealed it in 1995. And the FCC's failure to consider nearly four dozen proposed remedial measures."

Honig wrote, "People of color — 36% of the population — own just 5.1% of commercial full power TV stations and 8.0% of commercial full power radio stations. The statistics by racial group and by type of broadcast service are generally either stagnant or declining, as they have been for the past 12 years.

"On the ground, the situation is even worse than the raw numbers suggest. Most minority-owned stations are small. They typically operate on inferior frequencies or from outlying transmitter locations. Thus, minority asset value in radio and television has hovered for years around the 1% mark, even though spectrum is a public resource like the national parks."

Honig called for FCC action on 47 proposed rule and policy modifications and initiatives that have been offered by a coalition of 50 national minority and civil rights organizations

He listed three examples:

Enabling AM broadcasters to migrate to new frequencies now used by TV channels 5 and 6; relaxing restrictions on foreign investment in domestic broadcasting to provide greater access to capital to American broadcasters, especially minorities; and allowing a broadcaster to own an additional station in a market when it brings into being an independently owned new voice through such "incubation" methods as providing financing.

Israeli Strikes Kill Three Journalists in Gaza

Two Israeli airstrikes killed three journalists in the Gaza Strip Tuesday. In Cairo, meanwhile, Egyptian protesters firebombed one of the offices of satellite broadcaster Al-Jazeera on Wednesday, according to news reports.

The actions took place before Wednesday's cease-fire agreement between Israel and Hamas, ending eight days of fighting that killed more than 140 Palestinians and five Israelis, NBC News reported.

"According to the cease-fire agreement: Israel will stop attacks on Gaza by land, sea and air and stop incursions and targeted assassinations; Palestinian factions will stop hostilities from the Gaza Strip against Israel; Israel will ease the movement of people and goods at border-crossing areas," NBC said.

The Associated Press reported that "Two of those killed were cameramen working for Al Aqsa TV, the centerpiece of a growing Hamas media empire, said station head Mohammed Thouraya. The two were driving in a car with press markings in Gaza City on Tuesday afternoon, shortly after wrapping up an assignment at the city's Shifa Hospital, Thouraya added.

"The station said the car was hit by a missile and broadcast the aftermath, with the vehicle consumed by flames. Thouraya said the bodies of the two, Mohammed al-Koumi and Hussam Salam, were badly burned.

"Later Tuesday, another Israeli missile killed an employee for Al Quds Educational Radio, a private station, said Ashraf al-Kidra, a Gaza health official. Mohammed Abu Eisha died when his car was hit in the central Gaza town of Deir el-Balah, al-Kidra said.

"Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich, an Israeli military spokeswoman, said a preliminary investigation showed all three were Hamas operatives, but would not elaborate."

International press-freedom organizations criticized Israel.

"We're alarmed by the mounting toll on journalists in Gaza," said Sherif Mansour, Middle East and North Africa program coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists. "Israeli airstrikes continue to put journalists in harm's way. This reflects the risks journalists face while reporting on conflict, especially in such a densely populated area."

In Cairo, "The protesters hit the studio overlooking Tahrir Square with Molotov cocktails, engulfing it in flames. In a televised interview from inside the gutted office, reporter Ahmed el-Dassouki said around 300 protesters approached the building before noon, shouting obscenities," the Associated Press reported.

"He said they set the place on fire, stormed the building, and looted the studio. 'They accuse our network of being biased and not objective,' he said. Many protesters had accused the channel of supporting the country's most powerful political force, the Muslim Brotherhood. . . ."

Radio Host Suspended After Racist Obama Post

"Perhaps another case of a radio host not thinking before using Social Media," RadioInk reported on Wednesday. "And clearly a sign of how quickly you can get into trouble and jeopardize your job when emotions take over logic. WNWS is in Jackson, TN and host Bill Way . . . is off the air after he made a Facebook post about President Obama that a lot of people took offense to. Here's a portion of the Way FB post.

" 'A short message to Obama voters. To vote for him with a 9.2 unemployment rate, $16,000,000,000 in debt and an israeli war, a pimp walking prez married to cheetahs daughter...expect what you will most certainly get. bye bye medicare. hello homeless.. I love America except for the idiots.' Way apologized for his comments but it was too little too late. The NAACP quickly jumped in and criticized Way.

"General Manager Larry Wood told the local newspaper he learned about the comments Way made on his personal Facebook page. 'In no way do they reflect the positions or thoughts of any of us at WNWS-FM. We certainly don't condone the comments from Bill and appreciate his public apology. We're discussing his comments and apology. Considering the gravity of the situation, for now, by mutual agreement, Bill is taking a few days off.' "

In another incident, the Independent Record in Helena, Mont., reported, "Our copy desk made an error in judgment in editing the Sunday 2A Associated Press story about President Obama's trip to Asia and his place of birth. One of the copy editors inserted the term 'allegedly' born in Hawaii in the story thinking the other copy editor would catch it, he didn't. It was a poor attempt at humor and a poor decision, but was not intended to be printed in the paper. Those responsible have been disciplined."

NPR's Norris on Leave for Her "Race Card Project"

In October 2011, Michele Norris, a co-host of NPR's "All Things Considered," told colleagues she had to leave the show until the presidential election was over.

Michele Norris"I need to share some news and I wanted to make sure my NPR family heard this first," she wrote. "Last week, I told news management that my husband, Broderick Johnson, has just accepted a senior advisor position with the Obama Campaign. After careful consideration, we decided that Broderick's new role could make it difficult for me to continue hosting ATC. Given the nature of Broderick's position with the campaign and the impact that it will most certainly have on our family life, I will temporarily step away from my hosting duties until after the 2012 elections."

But Norris later decided to go on book leave and work on her passion.

"My sabbatical was crafted to extend through the end of January — after the inauguration," Norris told Journal-isms by email on Wednesday. "I have been working on The Race Card Project during this time off the air. Hope you've had a chance to check it out: What started out as a small experiment has turned into an incredible archive of people's attitudes and experiences with race and identity. There are now more than 12,000 archived submissions from every state and several entries from far flung ports including South Korea, Abu Dhabi, Dublin, Brisbane, Cairo, Brussels, Bangalore and Finland.

"It captures the conversation you know is out there but rarely hear expressed out loud — and most often with the author signing their name. And now that I have been cycling back and interviewing those who have submitted 6 word essays, I have found that those six words are often just the beginning of an incredible story."

Wanda Lloyd Stepping Down as Editor in Montgomery

"Wanda Lloyd, executive editor at the Montgomery Advertiser since 2004, is retiring as the newspaper's executive editor early next year," the Alabama newspaper reported on Tuesday. "She has been an editor with Gannett, the Advertiser's parent company, since 1986 — except for a 3 ½-year break when she was the founding executive director of a journalism education program at Vanderbilt University just prior to moving to Montgomery."

Wanda Lloyd

". . . Lloyd has led the transition from a primarily print-centric newsroom to a 21st Century newsroom that embraces the technological changes prevalent across today’s media industry."

". . . Lloyd's leadership in journalism includes serving on the boards of directors of the Alabama Press Association and the Alabama Associated Press Media Editors. She also serves on the journalism advisory boards at Auburn University, Alabama State University and Savannah State University, and she has served on similar advisory boards at Virginia Commonwealth and North Carolina A&T universities. She served for six years as a board member of the American Society of News Editors."

Lloyd told Journal-isms by telephone that she wanted to "figure out what my passions are." She said she had identified them as working with young journalists and diversity issues. Lloyd said that the news industry had veered away from diversity as a priority and she wanted to help it find its way back.

She said she planned to stay in Montgomery but can move if necessary, preferably elsewhere in the Southeast.

T.J. Homes on "The Breakfast Club" Wednesday on New York's WWPR-FM, known as Power 105.1. (Video)

T.J. Holmes Breaks Pledge Not to Use N-Word

CNN anchor-turned-BET host T.J. Holmes said Wednesday he had broken a pledge he made in an essay for the Grio in July: to stop using the N-Word.

"As soon as I walk out of this room, I'm probably going to drop it 20 times before I get downstairs" Holmes, 35, said on "The Breakfast Club" on New York's WWPR-FM, which calls itself Power 105.1. "I went through a thing about giving up the N-Word," but "I had to bring it back." Holmes agreed with one of the show's hosts, known as "Charlamagne Tha God," that "there's just certain folks you run into and there ain't no other word you can come up with . . . We all know it's a vile, it's a disgusting word and I don't think it necessarily should have a place."

He added, "We have normalized and sanitized the word in such a way. There's young white kids, they don't know anything about civil rights or struggle. All they know is they hear their favorite rapper using it all the time, so it must be all right."

In his Grio essay, Holmes had written, "Still, even if a younger generation of non-blacks doesn't fully understand the history of the n-word, everyone understands a general rule: we (blacks) can say it, and you (everybody else) can't. Beyond that, I really can't give you a good reason why I use it. I like saying it? It's the most accurate way of describing certain people? It's how I want to express my deep affection for my male friends? None of those reasons really fly.

". . . My problem has been that no one ever held me accountable for my, at times, gratuitous use of the n-word. So, while I can toil endlessly about who I do and don't mind saying the n-word, I never stopped to think that maybe there are people who don't want to hear that word from me. There are plenty of black people who don't want to hear fellow blacks use the n-word, but we give each other a pass. Stop."

BET announced last week that it is scaling back "Don't Sleep," the network's late-night, half-hour vehicle for Holmes, from half an hour Monday through Thursday to an hour once a week. Holmes said the talk show is aimed at 25-to-34 year-olds and that it would take time for viewers not used to watching BET to find it. "I didn't know where BET was on my cable lineup when they called and started talking about the show," Holmes acknowledged on "The Breakfast Club."

"Showbiz Journalism Even More Shallow Than I Thought"

Since resigning as a New York Times film critic in 2004, Elvis Mitchell has continued to host "The Treatment," a popular weekly syndicated public radio show from KCRW-FM, an NPR affiliate in Santa Monica, Calif.

Elvis Mitchell (credit: Marc Goldstein)In an interview with Richard Horgan of FishbowlLA, Mitchell indicated his newspaper days are behind him — the workload of a film critic for a daily has become "shattering," he said. Mitchell also bemoaned the failure of show-business writers to pick up on the comments on race made by actor Joaquin Phoenix in an interview with Mitchell.

"It kind of makes me think that as a kind of superficial forum and endeavor, showbiz journalism is even more shallow than I thought it would be," Mitchell said.

Horgan asked, "Would you ever consider, if the opportunity arose, returning to the ranks of a daily newspaper film critic?"

Mitchell laughed and replied, "The workload for a film critic today is just so Herculean.

"They're writing reviews, they're blogging and they're doing extra things for the Web. And, with movies that are based on books, you want to at least give the book a thumb-through and prepare. Add in film festivals and I'm not sure how people in the profession can keep up with it today. It's just shattering now, the workload."

Horgan also asked, "Your October Interview magazine conversation with Joaquin Phoenix got a large amount of media pick-up thanks to his comments that film awards season is 'total bullsh*t and the worst-tasting carrot.' What was your take and experience of the feedback you got after this interview?"

Mitchell replied, "I was astonished that this got so much reaction. There is a pretty lengthy part of the conversation that is about race, which I thought was as worthy if not more so as to what he was saying about awards season. That he walked away from a movie because he wasn't happy with the way it was being handled, and he thought there was this inertia that plays on this really antiquated attitude towards people of color in the movies.

"And, so far as I can see, almost nobody picked that up. I thought that would have been the thing that had people really jumping. It kind of makes me think that as a kind of superficial forum and endeavor, showbiz journalism is even more shallow than I thought it would be."

Thanksgiving Brings Out the Joy and Pain

"I told a college schoolmate last week that I'd just opened a book and found a scrap piece of paper with her email address scrawled on it," Jarvis DeBerry wrote Wednesday for and the Times-Picayune in New Orleans.

"The other side was printed with an address in Little Rock, which let me know that she'd given me her contact information at the wedding of another college friend who got married in that city more than a decade ago.

"She said 'wow' at the thought that I would have something so insignificant from so long ago. I, on the other hand, was thinking 'wow' at the thought that I have anything from so long ago.

"The overwhelming majority of my book collection was destroyed. When I made it into my house a month after Katrina the sodden heap of books on the floor was as depressing a sight as any. But this book — a Polish reporter's travel writings during four decades covering Africa — had survived."

Thanksgiving brings an annual challenge for newspaper columnists to say something fresh. The headline on a remembrance by Bob Ray Sanders of the Star-Telegram in Fort Worth, Texas, might provide a theme for many of them: "Thanksgiving Day brings joy and pain."

Short Takes

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Richard Prince's Journal-isms originates from Washington and is published Monday, Wednesday and Friday. It began in print before most of us knew what the Internet was, and it would like to be referred to as a "column." For newcomers: The words in blue (on most computers) are links leading to more information. The Web site provides passwords and user names to some registration-only news sites, but use may be illegal in some states. Any views expressed in the column are those of the person or organization quoted and not those of any other entity.

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Cross-positngs from the Root on T.J. Holmes


I look at the N-word as demographically specific profanity, albeit with a contentious and tainted history. I.e., the way it is used these days isn't too far off from something like motherf****r, which is sometimes used casually by people both as a slur and as a familial term. At the same time it is crass and offensive. Obviously a major difference is that the N-word is restricted in use to a particular demographic. That, however, doesn't change the fact that it is crass, profane, and offensive to most people. In all the situations you hear where the N-word used in a supposedly "positive" manner, replace it with motherf****r and tell me it doesn't sound vulgar in the extreme. Would you want to watch a TV host use that kind of profanity? Then, why does TJ Holmes think it's ok to use the N-word? He may have a so-called "pass", but he still sounds like a vulgar tool when he uses it and people are going to react to it regardless of how he or anyone else seeks to justify it.

Julian Andy Gumbs

No self respecting Black Man would Ever use that term, nor rationalize the term usage either. Society as a whole is a complete joke, just pathetic.

jane jupiter

I wonder when Holmes was at CNN did he restrict his use of the word. Because, if he did, he obviously respected the staff at CNN more than he does at BET. There is no excuse for anyone professional, or not, to use that word.

Bobby Williams likes this.


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